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Los Angeles Employment Law Blog

Grocery workers may strike over wage and hour claims

These days, it can be difficult for families to make ends meet. Most people expect that if they work full time, they should be able to make enough money to provide for themselves and their loved ones. However, employees across industries report that higher costs of living and stagnant wages make that difficult. Some say that their employers are not properly compensating them for their work, by not paying them for hours worked or not providing them with proper meal and rest breaks. This is why grocery workers in Southern California are considering a strike.

Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union are very close to approving a strike that would affect several thousand workers. Representatives say that the corporations who own three large grocery chains -- Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons -- are taking in huge profits and enjoying significant tax cuts without providing adequate raises to employees. They say that employees have to work more than one job to take care of themselves and their loved ones, which they don't believe should be necessary.

Video game publisher accused of gender, workplace discrimination

Employees expect that they will be treated fairly by their employer. Unfortunately, that is not always what happens. Some employers will treat certain employees in ways that they do not deserve, simply because they are of a different gender, sexual orientation, religion or part of another protected class. Workplace discrimination laws exist to protect employees in those classes and to provide them with a path for legal recourse. A video game publisher, Riot Games, is contending with those issues as the company faces a civil lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Representatives from the DFEH claim that they asked Riot Games to show them evidence of employee salaries and pay information. They say that it is part of their investigation of alleged gender discrimination. The investigation started late last year and DFEH claims that Riot Games has not complied with its request. Representatives for DFEH are examining claims of unequal pay, sexual harassment, sexual assault, retaliation and gender discrimination, all allegedly directed at female employees.

Study shows California has higher rate of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is a nation-wide problem. Ever since the #MeToo movement, the news is rife with examples of both women and men being harassed by people in positions of power. Sexual harassment anywhere is unacceptable, but it is particularly hurtful within the workplace. Unfortunately, a recent study says California has higher rates sexual harassment than the rest of the nation. Experts have a few theories regarding this finding.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Center on Gender Equity and Health at UC San Diego. The researchers report that while 81% of women in the United States say they have experienced sexual harassment, 86% of women in California have said the same. When looking at men, the national percentage is 43% while the California rate was all the way up to 53%.

Discrimination due to pregnancy violates the law

Were you happy to hear that you were pregnant until you realized you would have to tell your boss? If so, you aren't alone. With competition fierce in some of California's industries, you may think you could either lose your job or be denied one due to your pregnancy.

Logically, you should have nothing to fear. However, in reality, many women suffer from pregnancy discrimination. Now that you are pregnant, you may benefit from understanding your rights under an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 called the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which applies to all employers with at least 15 employees.

Age workplace discrimination is a hidden crisis

Age discrimination in the workplace is illegal, but that does not mean it does not exist. This form of workplace discrimination is not always as easy to spot as things like gender and racial discrimination. Many younger workers in California might even be under the impression that age discrimination is a thing of the past. Sadly, it is a real problem for many older workers, both those who are currently employed and who are actively seeking work.

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research recently conducted a poll about Americans' beliefs regarding age discrimination. Of respondents younger than 45, 43% said they thought older U.S. workers were often or always subjected to discrimination. That percentage jumped to 60% for those over the age of 60. Another statistic from a different study states that 65% of adults between the age of 45 and 59 believe that looking for work is harder because of their age. Being passed over for raises and promotions is also a significant age-related problem for this group.

What is workplace sexual harassment?

The struggle for workplace equality has been hard fought. Respect and dignity at your job is a basic human right. But people each day endure harassment in the workplace based on gender.

To protect yourself from gender-based harassment and discrimination, it is important to know what sexual harassment is, what constitutes sexual harassment, and the laws that protect you from it.

Two juries decide in favor of sexual harassment victims

When people go to work, they have a reasonable expectation of being treated fairly and in a manner that reinforces their safety. Certain laws exist to support those efforts and to hold employers accountable. If an employee experiences sexual harassment in the workplace, he or she has the right to pursue legal recourse against his or her employer. Two different California juries found in favor of the victims in two different sexual harassment cases this year, showing just how seriously the legal system takes these incidents.

The first case was decided back in January, where more than $11 million was awarded to two former employees of a winery. The women stated that they were fired from their jobs for complaining about workplace sexual harassment. They said that their general manager was the one who victimized them.

Car wash fined $2M for wage and hour claims by multiple employees

In the modern job market, many people are grateful simply to be employed. This appreciation can sometimes cultivate a workplace atmosphere where employers feel emboldened to take advantage of employees. There are laws against doing this, but it still occurs in many workplaces which may lead employees to file varying wage and hour claims against employers. Recently, a car wash here in California was fined more than $2 million for what authorities say were wage theft violations.

The car wash in question allegedly failed to pay minimum wage and overtime pay to 64 workers. Representatives for the workers also say they were forced to pay for their own towels to use while on the job without any reimbursement. The two joint owners and the car wash's parent company were deemed liable by the California Labor Commission.

Woman claims she experienced workplace discrimination at Netflix

Workplaces cannot discriminate against an employee for certain protected characteristics, including race, religion and gender. Pregnancy is also a protected class -- employers are not permitted to discriminate against an employee due to pregnancy. However, that is exactly what one woman here in California alleges regarding her former employer -- online entertainment giant Netflix. She says that she experienced workplace discrimination after she informed her boss that she was pregnant.

The woman worked on several projects relating to international content. She claims that once she revealed her pregnancy, her boss stopped including her on project-related emails and meetings. She also alleges that her boss made negative comments regarding her appearance. When she reported this behavior to human resources and asked to change to a different department, she claims she was told that she would have to discuss the matter with her boss. She claims that her boss attempted to get her to quit rather than take maternity leave and that she was soon fired without due cause.

Key considerations re whistleblowing in California

Maybe you’re a researcher in a medical laboratory, and are bothered by your knowledge that company principals are falsely reporting results to government agencies to receive grant money.

Or perhaps it’s the case that you review billings for a care facility, and notice that charges being reported for patients receiving Medicare are grossly inflated.

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